One of the most controversial statements of this year was by Real Estate millionaire Tim Gurner who advised Millennials to stop eating avocado toast if we want to get on the property ladder.
Inevitably this created outrage. Maybe because there is an element of truth in his statement, backed up by polls such as this one which claims that Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than buy a house.
As a Millennial myself I fit this stereotype rather too well. I do not own a house. In fact I don’t own many things, my entire lifelong possessions fit into a few storage boxes. My most expensive belonging is my Macbook. My disposable income is largely spent on copious amounts of coffee, cocktails and travel.
The older generation are left scratching their heads, aghast that so much income is ‘wasted’ instead of investing it into a house. So what has led to this transition in attitudes?
My parents generation were largely split into class based occupations. A few working class managed to claw their way to professional jobs, but generally career selection was limited from birth.
However, being a Millennial, I was one of the lucky ones. One of the first generation in a meritocracy. The day Tony Blair was voted into 10 Downing street. I was allowed to stay up into the night as votes were counted. As the red bar chart over took the blue we erupted into victorious cheers. At long last, after years of repressive Tory rule, we had a leader who wanted to make life better for normal people like us. People who nobody in power had ever cared about before.
Raised in ‘Blair’s Britain’, going to University was almost a given. Around 50% of the population joined me in taking out student debt which we hoped would pave our way into a golden era of opportunity.
But it didn’t quite work like that. I left University not to a wealth of opportunities at my disposal, but to doors slamming shut in the global recession. Friends parents were made redundant. Job centres opened. Shops closed. Unemployment figures skyrocketed. Employers stopped recruiting. Suddenly getting my dream career seemed impossible. My priority shifted to simply getting a job. After months of sending out job applications, followed by months of shop work and basic admin, my C.V. was no longer a blank canvas, neither was it glowing with success.
When the economy eventually began to pick up, fresh-faced graduates emerging from University had the pick of graduate jobs. I was stranded in the trenches of no mans land, with little to show in terms of skills or experience. My C.V. was weak, my confidence low and my skills obsolete. What I’m trying to say is that as a Millennial, I felt, in part cheated. Cheated by unrealistic expectations, by a false dream that was sold to me, by an unexpected recession, and by ever rising house prices that left it difficult, if not impossible to get on the property ladder.
As the years went on, many of us who had initially hoped to get on the property ladder, simply gave up trying. Instead we started to use our money to enjoy life. After a few tough years of recession, we were ready to spend our income. Not on goods, but on memories. We know that in minutes the world can change and that everything can be taken away from us. Not only that but many of us have had to move for work, and therefore don’t want to be tied down to one place. Subsequently, unlike our parents generation we don’t place as much emphasis on a stable lifestyle demonstrated through tangible goods as a marker of success and happiness.
Ten years after the recession of December 2007, the Tories are back in power. The poorest in society shunned. Public services decimated. Many like me have opted to live and work abroad where life isn’t so much of a daily struggle. With UK property prices so high, saving up even 10% for a deposit seems an unwelcome slog. Much more preferable is acquiring short-term, but high levels of satisfaction from small luxuries and experiences, whether that’s having a cappuccino in a cafe, or an impromptu weekend away in Prague.
After all what have we got to look forward to? Working until 90 when the house we’ve worked so hard for is sold to give us a place in the retirement home?
As Millennials start to age over the next few decades, we may start to shift our priorities. Perhaps this will drive us to seek stability over simple pleasures. But until then, I choose coffee and travel.
Hi, I live and work in Dubai. I enjoy getting out and about and seeing what Dubai has to offer, travelling in my holidays and spare time – prepare for blog posts about this, and cooking vegetarian recipes. I am passionate about travel and animals.